Why I love the Super Nanny

Last night we watched Super Nanny on tv. It is one of my kids favorite shows. I am sure I am not the only trainer that has recognised that the principles Jo the nanny teaches the parents, are exactly the same we use in dog training. Positive reinforcement, communication, and setting boundries or rules. (and staying calm) Anyone who has read Karen Pryors book "Don't shoot the dog" can see the principles in action on the show as well.

When clients have children that are very unruly I used to worry that it was not going to go well for the dog. If they couldn't control the kids, who speak and understand english, how were they going to add a being of another species to the mix with good results? I have learned over time that my teaching them the principals of positive reinforcment helps everyone, not just the dog. The show Super Nanny is a great example I can bring up of positive reinforcement with real world applications as well.

The show is also a FABULOUS example that positive doesn't equal permissive. Something that many people just can't seem to understand regarding positive training methods. The perception that positive training equals "cookie pushing" and always using food for everything is a huge misnomer. There are other forms of praise we can use with dogs, touch, verbal and play are just a few. Plus we use verbal no reward markers, or withdrawing attention, to let dogs know we don't want certain behaviors. (Timing can be a critical component here.)

You will also notice that while Jo does interact with the children, she is there to teach the parents how to get the results they need. Again, the same thing we do in dog training. We need to teach the owners how to get the results they want when we are not around. We are not training their dog for them. Even in cases where dogs are being trained by others, in drop off training facilities, the owner still needs to be taught how to get the dog to respond in order for them to continue them once the trainer is out of the equasion.

Training for dogs is also long term. Use it or lose it is the mantra to keep skills fluid. This is where consistancy comes in. While aquisition of skills can be time specific, keeping them by practice or use is for the lifetime of the dog. The same as for children. If your dog learns to sit, and you don't always require they sit when you cue them, they will eventually stop sitting for the cue. Why should they? You obviously don't always mean it. Example with children: "If you don't stop that whining we'll leave this store". Yet mom never actually leaves the store. What has that child learned? Follow through is so important. This is why so many dogs continue to jump on people. You'll find many times someone somewhere is letting them do the behavior in essence reinforcing(to the dog)that it is ok to do.

To see more training that shows positive does not equal permissive I also recommend the show "It's me or the dog" with Victoria Stillwell. Excellent reward based training and behavior modification with fair rule setting. "Barking Mad" is yet another great positive methods training show with various animals and issues addressed. Thank you Animal Planet!

(Interestingly "Barking Mad", and "It's me or the dog" both take place in Britain and Jo is British as well. As is our own Dr. Dunbar. This is one British invasion I definatly support!!)